Miller Cen­ter for the Arts pre­sents: Phil Wig­gins Blues House Party

The Southern Berks News - - FEATURES - From David Hessen

Phil Wig­gins Blues House Party with Ju­nious Brick­house and The Har­ris Brothers will open Read­ing Area Com­mu­nity Col­lege’s Miller Cen­ter for the Art’s se­cond half of its sea­son Fri­day, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m.

Through­out the Pied­mont and Ap­palachi­ans there have ex­isted for cen­turies shared mu­si­cal tra­di­tions that were equally pop­u­lar among ru­ral blacks and whites. This pro­gram ex­plores the roots and con­nec­tions of these re­gional ru­ral mu­sic and dance tra­di­tions. The pro­gram will fea­ture har­mon­ica wiz­ard and 2017 Na­tional Her­itage Fel­low Phil Wig­gins and his blues house party ensem­ble fea­tur­ing the danc­ing of Ju­nious Brick­house, and North Carolina song­sters ex­traor­di­naire, the Har­ris Brothers.

Phil Wig­gins is one of the na­tion’s fore­most play­ers of acous­tic blues har­mon­ica. A na­tive of Wash­ing­ton, D.C., his play­ing is rooted in the melodic Pied­mont blues. At­tracted to blues har­mon­ica as a young man, he be­gan his per­form­ing ca­reer with some Wash­ing­ton, D.C.’s lead­ing blues artists, in­clud­ing gui­tarist Archie Ed­wards and John Jack­son, and slide gui­tarist and gospel singer Flora Molton. In 2017, Phil re­ceived an NEA Na­tional Her­itage Fel­low­ship, the na­tion’s high­est honor in the folk and tra­di­tional arts.

The man who brings the dance back to the house party is the in­com­pa­ra­ble Ju­nious Brick­house. He is the founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ur­ban Artistry in D.C.’s Ward 7, an or­ga­ni­za­tion “ded­i­cated to the per­for­mance and preser­va­tion of art forms in­spired by the ur­ban ex­pe­ri­ence.” Res­ur­rect­ing the dances of the coun­try blues house party has in­volved per­sonal mem­ory, re­search, and in­tu­ition. Join­ing Phil and Ju­nious are gui­tarist Rick Franklin and fid­dler Mar­cus Moore.

The Har­ris Brothers are part of the Amer­i­can song­ster tra­di­tion, draw­ing from di­verse cur­rents of ver­nac­u­lar mu­sic, in­clud­ing Ap­palachian blue­grass and old-time and the dis­tinc­tive blues styles of the up­land South, as well as coun­try, jazz, and rock. With Reg­gie on gui­tar, Ryan on bass, seam­less brother har­monies, and kick drum fash­ioned from a suit­case. To­day, The Har­ris Brothers are reg­u­larly fea­tured at venues such as the Blue Ridge Mu­sic Cen­ter, Mer­lefest, re­gional fid­dler con­ven­tions, and, in­creas­ingly, at na­tional fes­ti­vals. Known for their show­man­ship and their spon­tane­ity, they never make a set list, so no Har­ris Brothers per­for­mances are ever the same.

This en­gage­ment of Coun­try Blues & Dance is made pos­si­ble through the Folk and Tra­di­tional Arts Tour­ing Net­work pro­gram of Mid At­lantic Arts Foun­da­tion in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the na­tional Coun­cil for the Tra­di­tional Arts with sup­port from the na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts.

Tick­ets for Coun­try Blues & Dance are $32 for adults and $15 for stu­dents and may be pur­chased by call­ing the Miller Cen­ter box of­fice at 610-607-6270 or vis­it­ing miller­center.racc.edu.

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